Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course

Our mission is to foster and accelerate the development of novel technologies that will improve surgical diseases or the care of surgical patients.

Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize

The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize is the first of its kind in the country and its mission is to foster and accelerate the development of novel technologies that will improve surgical diseases or the care of surgical patients. With dedicated funding of up to $500,000 by the Department of Surgery for the biennial course, the Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize awards outstanding surgical innovations that have excelled through a department-sponsored Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course (SIDAC).

Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course

Our goal is to identify novel surgical innovations and technologies, so they can move forward and create change for patients.

The Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course is an eight-month course for surgical faculty designed to teach the essentials of innovation and entrepreneurship while developing ideas toward clinical impact. The course and competition starts with an innovation proposal and culminates in a symposium where the top innovation teams from each category compete for awards and resources.

From the initial round of submissions, the oversight committee invites the top submissions to go through the surgical Innovation Development Accelerator course to help de-risk and develop their ideas with the end goal to give a formal pitch in a “Shark Tank” format at the symposium to oversight committee, judges and investors.

SIDAC How It Works


The course is a unique opportunity among departments of surgery in which novel surgical innovations and technologies are identified and moved forward to create change and impact for patients. 

Each team receives expert instruction, guided expert mentorship and coaching, as well as peer mentorship and coaching from others in the course, and resources for patent filing, prototyping, and customer discovery provided through the fund and supported by the office of technology transfer and the fast forward medical innovation group.

The course intends to accelerate the process of bringing new technology to patients by identifying and addressing problems early in the development process.

Concepts developed throughout the course include:

  • Idea generation
  • Value proposition
  • Intellectual property and patent submission
  • Regulatory pathways
  • Customer discovery
  • Marketing and adoption
  • Reimbursement and funding models
  • Prototyping and pitching
Dr. Vemuri presenting at SIDAC
Presenter at Surgical Innovation Prize Shark Tank Grand Rounds
SIDAC participants

“I think the biggest challenge for innovators is making the conversion from a singular focus on technology to a broader focus on how the technology is going to fit into the larger world and how it can be commercialized.”

David Olson, Lead Instructor, SIDAC

Collaboration and Partnerships

The Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course fosters collaboration throughout the Department of Surgery and throughout the University of Michigan. We work with faculty members who specialize in different areas such as Engineering, School of Information, and departments across Michigan Medicine. Their unique perspectives encourage creativity and new ideas, leading to better technology for our patients. 

This course emphasizes collaboration between academia and industry. Teams benefit from expertise of industry partners who have experience navigating the process of new technologies moving into the clinic and understand how to navigate the regulatory adoption issues that occur. The collaboration and connections help teams develop the technology effectively and provide resources beyond the course including opportunities for licensing and expansion.

  • Fast Forward Medical Innovation provides resources for teams to conduct consumer research to better prepare their product for the market and distribution to patients.
  • The Office of Tech Transfer assists teams in navigating the regulatory process and preparing to file patents.
  • The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize: The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize Oversight Committee provides expert resources for each team, including expertise outside the university from industry and venture capital. Content experts are able to give each team meaningful guidance and oversight on the development and implementation of their technologies.

“Our physicians are in a unique space where they get to see a problem happening live. Every day. If we give them training to commercialize technology, it's also a way to look for problems and build solutions that really have an impact. This course allows you the space the time and the mentorship to really understand how to fail, pick yourself back up, and continue to pivot to grow and be able to make that impactful change in the future.”

Margarita Hernandez, Fast Forward Medical Innovation

Funding and Investors

The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize awards are determined by the Innovation Oversight Committee based on the quality of the innovation and its commercial/development potential. Numbers of awards can vary by year and range from $50,000 to $500,000 in size.

The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize Oversight Committee reviews applications as well as award winners and monitors their progress, deliverables, and exits/ROIs. The committee is comprised of Department of Surgery faculty and external members from industry, venture capital, legal experts, and partnering Michigan Medicine units such as Fast Forward Medical Innovations. The committee is charged with prize contract execution and fiduciary overview of each awardee.


The Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course is the only one of its kind in the country. At Michigan Medicine, we expect our surgeons to not only operate but also shape the field of surgery. Supporting innovation allows our faculty to become leaders in developing technology that will change how we operate and care for patients. During the course, 38 multidisciplinary proposals were submitted and 12 teams were selected to enroll in the course. At the end of the 8 month Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course (SIDAC), 6 teams were awarded a total of almost $500,000 in funding, and then 4 teams were selected to pitch at a Shark Tank-style Grand Rounds to outside investors. Over 40 surgeons, scientists, engineers, surgical residents, and medical students gained critical knowledge of the value and development of surgical technologies toward patient use and impact during the first Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize Competition and SIDAC course. Participants developed a thorough understanding of how to navigate their ideas through the university and into the market. The program created tremendous impact within the Department for faculty engaged in clinical and translational surgical problem-solving, and it catapulted Michigan’s Department of Surgery as a national leader in Surgical Innovation. 

SIDAC Impact

2018 SIDAC Results

In August 2018, the finalists presented to our Oversight Committee. 6 teams were awarded a total of almost $500,000 in funding.

Ferroximend - A novel therapeutic device for bone healing: $150,000

Ferroximend combines an angiogenic stimulant, deferoxamine, with an osteogenic (bone forming) tissue filler device, hyaluronic acid. This unique combination triggers the formation of blood vessels at the fracture site, at the right time, leading to a remarkable ability to heal difficult fractures and accelerate that healing process.

Team: Steven Buchman, Alexis Donneys, Chitra Subramanian

Michigan ENdoluminal lengthening Device (MEND): $100,000

MEND is a device technology therapy that uses the well-established medical principle of mechanotrasduction to induce growth of new intestine and is intended to safely treat short bowel syndrome unlike current available therapy.

Team: Matthew Ralls, Diann Brei, Jonathan Luntz

Minute Coaching System: $100,000

The minute coaching system is a proprietary software product that lets medical students get real time feedback from faculty. The goal is to sell/license this product out to other medical schools, either directly from University of Michigan or via an existing company with a franchise in the medical education market.

Team: David Hughes, Rishi Reddy, and Gurjit Sandhu

Surgical Asset Tracker: $95,000

Surgical Asset Tracker is a University of Michigan startup that develops and commercializes software solutions for tracking temporary implantable devices, providing automated, high fidelity device-tracking with alerts and works with any major EHR.

Team: Michael Englesbe, John Hollingsworth, and Mark Newman

Hot Spot - Using Thermochromic Material to Identify Areas at Risk for Ulcer: $25,000

This technology uses thermochromic liquid crystals that change color providing an obvious, early warning sign that patients may be at risk for ulcer formation

Team: Chandu Vemuri, MD, Catherine Gilbert, Brian Schmidt, Anthony Fici, Betsy VanWieren, Taylor Novice

MULT-EYE Laparoscopic Camera: $10,000

A multi-camera based integrated imaging system for improved visualization during laparoscopic surgery. 

Team: Oliver Varban, MD, Abhinav Appukutty, Phillip Yang

“Our team brought together experts from General Surgery, Urology, and the School of Information. So you have this compliment between the clinical context which was important and thinking about innovations in healthcare as well as technologic expertise to actually implement things which was something that was really unique about this opportunity.”


John Hollingsworth, Urology, 2018 Course Participant

"Part of the innovation prize is to help us figure out a way to make this applicable to a broader group of people. So can we take our feedback system, and can we make it financially viable and something that we can create into a product that could be used for other departments within the med school, other universities, other Departments of Surgery?" 

Rishindra Reddy, MD

Interested Partners & Investors

The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize Program seeks new collaborative opportunities with industry partners, investors, and philanthropic initiatives to grow the program and provide more resources and opportunities for great surgical innovations to be successful and move outside the university for real patient impact.

Interested groups or individuals who would like to partner with the Department of Surgery and the Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize to help us advance Michigan Surgical Innovations to the next level should contact Dr. Mark Cohen at 734-615-4741.

Participation and Eligibility

To be eligible, the submitter must be a member in good standing of the University of Michigan and the innovation must address improving the care of surgical patients.

Collaborations between University of Michigan schools and other Michigan Medicine Departments is acceptable as long as a lead school is identified and IP position/split is well defined as part of the submission. 

How to Apply

The next request for proposals for the Surgical Innovation Prize will be opened in August of 2019.

Proposals must include an innovation technology that addresses a surgical disease or improves the care of surgical patients. Teams can be comprised of any disciplines; however, each team must designate their category at the time of submission.

Submissions will be in the form of an executive summary document for the innovation that includes:

  • The value proposition
  • Market analysis
  • IP and regulatory path description
  • Milestones for funding with deliverables

Give us a call at 734-615-4741 or email Dr. Mark Cohen for questions about SIDAC or to inquire about participating in the next Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course.